Carrying Out the Great Commission
I solemnly urge you before God and before Christ Jesus—who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom—to preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not.
—2 Timothy 4:1–2
When Jesus told his followers to “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone,” that small band of poor, Middle Eastern disciples were overwhelmed. Were they supposed to walk or ride slow animals? That’s all they had for transportation, and there were no ocean-crossing ships, so there were real physical barriers to going to the whole world.
Today we have airplanes, ships, trains, buses, and automobiles. It’s a small world after all, and it’s shrinking daily. You can fly across the ocean in a matter of hours and be home the next day if you need to be. The opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in short-term international missions are now literally limitless. Every corner of the world is available to you—just ask the travel industry. We have no excuse not to spread the Good News.
Now, with the Internet, the world has gotten even smaller. In addition to phones and faxes, any believer with Internet access can personally communicate with people in virtually every country on earth. The whole world is at your fingertips! Even many remote villages get email, so you can now carry on “e-vangelistic” conversations with people on the other side of the world, without even leaving your home! It has never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation … The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance.
—Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life
What [God] needs is better organs to reveal Himself through, richer, truer, holier lives to show His love through, more finely organized personalities for His grace to break through into the world. He cannot do His work without us. He cannot preach without our lips, comfort without our help, heal without our hands, carry the truth without our feet, remove the shadow without our faith and effort. The invisible works through the visible; the unseen and eternal operates through little instruments like us!
—Rufus M. Jones
As Christians we face the task of delivering the good news, the Gospel, God’s message of love and salvation, to the world of today. In order to do so in a relatable fashion, it’s important to understand the fundamental changes that have occurred in society, affecting many people’s worldview, values, and perception of Christianity. Recognizing that these changes run deep and bring with them fears and insecurities, as well as skepticism, can help us to better convey the message in a manner that relates to those we are commissioned to reach.
We know that the Gospel is a message for today’s world, but finding the manner to reach those who have not yet been attracted to the message, or who have been put off by it for one reason or another, is an ever-increasing challenge. The modern world has changed incredibly and rapidly within the past thirty years, and it continues to do so. Secularism has heavily permeated spheres of thought and influence with values that promote self-interest and materialism, as well as other values that are incompatible with and ultimately undermine Christian and traditional values.
That’s why the “you” factor is so vital. You embody the message. The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, dwells within you. Who you are, how you live, the love you show, the kindness, the compassion and concern, all reflect God’s Spirit which lives within you. The Holy Spirit gives the call to the individual’s heart, but that call is often heard through your example. They get interested because they see your light and feel your warmth; that brings about the desire to hear what you have to say and the trust needed to accept and believe what you tell them. One of our challenges as Christians today is to live in a manner that allows the Holy Spirit to so reflect through us that people will be attracted and intrigued by the light that they see in us. Then, in coming closer to the warmth of that light, they will connect with the one who is the light of the world and who will give them the light of life.
[The] Gospel is never heard in a vacuum or in isolation—it is always heard against the background of the cultural milieu in which one lives.
—William Lane Craig
True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.
—Pope John Paul II
The believer is the only book in which God himself writes his New Testament.
In a post-Christian, skeptical age, love on display is the most convincing apologetic.
—J. D. Greer
Even though you don’t see the results of your witness right away, in some way you’re getting results. He’s promised that His Word will not return unto Him void; it will accomplish His purpose. (Isaiah 55:11) You will not see some of the results until you get to heaven because you don’t always know the results of the seeds you plant in someone’s heart, if, how or when they will take root. Perhaps the person you have witnessed to will eventually find the Lord due to something that you said, or your witness will have worked in their heart to cause them to be more open and receptive when some other Christian witnesses to them.
We can’t always expect to be the sowers and the reapers, because the Lord said that some sow and some water, but God gives the increase. (See 1 Corinthians 3:6) Sometimes we enter into other men’s labors and sometimes others enter into ours. Sometimes we lead people to the Lord who have been a long time in preparation, people who perhaps for their whole lifetime have been going through things where the Lord was bringing them gradually to the point where they would be willing to yield their lives to Him; and we come along at that point and we invite them to receive Jesus, and they do. We are just brought by the Lord at that time in their life after they have gone through a long period of preparation, and we’re able to reap all that has been sown and watered by others.
Sometimes we enter the scene somewhere else in the growing process. We may come in at the beginning, as the sowers, where we plant the initial seed. Or who knows, maybe we’re coming in somewhere in the middle and we’re watering the seed that was planted in their heart by someone else. We’re answering another of their questions, and we’re showing them a little more of Jesus’ love, and that will continue to work in their heart, even if they don’t immediately manifest how much it meant to them. We may never see them again, but the Word and the love we showed works in their heart, and the Lord uses it as one more step in bringing that person to Him. Their eventual salvation will partly be a result of our faithfulness to show them His love and tell them His message.
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